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Palestinians denied water:BBC report

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

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Page last updated at 08:58 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

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Report: Palestinians denied water

A girl stands next to a water tank near Nablus, West Bank. Photo: October 2009

Some Palestinians only get 20 litres of water a day, Amnesty says

Israel is denying Palestinians access to even the basic minimum of clean, safe water, Amnesty International says.

In a report, the human rights group says Israeli water restrictions discriminate against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

It says that in Gaza, Israel’s blockade has pushed the already ailing water and sewage system to “crisis point”.

Israel says the report is flawed and the Palestinians get more water than was agreed under the 1990s peace deal.

‘Basic need’

In the 112-page report, Amnesty says that on average Palestinian daily water consumption reaches 70 litres a day, compared with 300 litres for the Israelis.

Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians’ access to water

Donatella Rovera
Amnesty International

Gaza thirsts as sewage crisis mounts

Water shortages plague West Bank

It says that some Palestinians barely get 20 litres a day – the minimum recommended even in humanitarian emergencies.

While Israeli settlers in the West Bank enjoy lush gardens and swimming pools, Amnesty describes a series of Israeli measures it says are discriminating against Palestinians:

  • Israel has “entirely appropriated the Palestinians’ share of the Jordan river” and uses 80% of a key shared aquifer
  • West Bank Palestinians are not allowed to drill wells without Israeli permits, which are “often impossible” to obtain
  • Rainwater harvesting cisterns are “often destroyed by the Israeli army”

Water consumption graph

Recommended for short-term survival: 20 litres

For the medium term: 70 litres

Recommended for the long term: 100 litres

(Source: WHO)

  • Israeli soldiers confiscated a water tanker from villagers who were trying to remain in land Israel had declared a “closed military area”
  • An unnamed Israeli soldier says rooftop Palestinian household water tanks are “good for target practice”
  • Much of the land cut off by the West Bank barrier is land with good access to a major aquifer
  • Israeli military operations have damaged Palestinian water infrastructure, including $6m worth during the Cast Lead operation in Gaza last winter
  • The Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza has “exacerbated what was already a dire situation” by denying many building materials needed for water and sewage projects.The report also noted that the Palestinian water authorities have been criticised for bad management, quoting one audit that described the sector as in “total chaos”.

    “Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality, subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford,” Amnesty’s Donatella Rovera said.

    “Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians’ access to water.”

    ‘Fair share’

    Ms Rovera also urged Israel to “take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources”.

    Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said “the idea that we’re taking water away from someone else is simply preposterous”.

    He argued that Israeli fresh water use per capita had gone down since 1967 due to efficiency and new technologies, while the Palestinians’ use had increased and more than a third of their water was wasted.

    FROM BBC WORLD SERVICE

    More from BBC World Service

    If there were allegations of military wrongdoing, those would be investigated, he said.

    He also rejected the claim that Israel was preventing Palestinians from drilling for water, saying Israel had approved 82 such projects but the Palestinians had only implemented 26 of them.

    “They have received billions of dollars in international aid over the last decade and a half, why have they not invested that in their own water infrastructure>?” he asked.

    The report also criticised the Oslo Accords, which the Palestinians agreed to in 1993.

    It said that under them, the Palestinians gained the responsibility for managing an “insufficient” water supply and maintaining “long neglected” water infrastructure.

    Also, the deal left the Palestinians paying Israel for half of the domestic water used in the West Bank, despite the fact it is extracted from the shared aquifer.

    Mr Regev said Israel provides the Palestinians with more water than it was required to under the accord.

  • Is the end near for the Right’s Grip on US-Israel policy

    Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

     

    Is the End Near for the Right-Wing’s Vice Grip on U.S. Israeli Policy?

    By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
    Posted on October 26, 2009, Printed on October 26, 2009
    http://www.alternet.org/story/143503/

    This week, retired Marine Corps Gen. Jim Jones, Barack Obama’s national security adviser, will keynote the inaugural J Street Conference, billed as a gathering of “progressive pro-Israel, pro-peace” activists.

    The event marks the emergence of the moderate Jewish advocacy group that aspires to be a counterweight to the voices of the traditionally hawkish “pro-Israel” lobby in Washington.

    The White House’s decision last week to send Jones to address the event was a small move that might have a significant impact on the overheated politics of the Middle East.

    In the months before, a full-throated “swift boat” campaign had been launched against J Street in an attempt to vilify and delegitimize the group as belonging to the fringe, despite its advocacy of a moderate, or at most slightly left-of center, approach to U.S. policy in the Middle East.

    The conservative media offered a steady drumbeat of dubious charges, and a campaign had been under way to warn members of Congress away from the event. And it appeared to be having some impact as several members of Congress pulled out of the conference in the weeks leading up to the event (a total of 10 reportedly dropped out, according toreports, but not all in response to outside pressure).

    It was an attempt to nip J Street in the bud and preserve the hegemony established lobbying groups like American Israel Public Affairs Committee have long enjoyed in the halls of Congress.

    At stake was not only the definition of what it means to be “pro-Israel” — long synonymous with supporting the more hawkish end of Israel’s political spectrum (despite American Jews’ general tendency to lean left) — but also, and more importantly, the ability of established lobbying groups to claim to speak for the American Jewish community as a whole.

    It was a closely watched Washington fight, and when the White House announced that the head of Obama’s National Security Council would headline the event, it sent a powerful message, legitimizing the 2-year-old group as a voice in U.S. foreign policy debates and providing cover for wavering lawmakers under pressure to skip the conference.

    It signaled, to the media and other interested observers, that the J Street conference is decidedly within the mainstream.

    It was also another small shot at the hawkish Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — a public rebuke of Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s high-profiledecision to boycott the conference a week earlier — a decision that may have been prompted by pressure from AIPAC (Israel said it had concerns for some of the group’s positions but would send an “observer”).

    Indeed, the Washington Post framed the entire controversy surrounding the conference as a proxy war in a larger conflict between the White House and the Israeli government under right-wing Netanyahu.

    In sending Jones, not only did the Obama administration help J Street take the old-school “Israel lobby’s” best punches and come through standing on its feet, it did itself a service in the process.

    Obama has long been dogged by warnings that he risks losing support among American Jews for a range of policies — from attempts to reach out to the Islamic world, to negotiating with Iran and, perhaps most significantly, for confronting the Israeli government on the expansion of Israeli settlements.

    His administration is leaning on a new generation of moderate-to-progressive Jewish activists, represented most visibly at the moment by J Street, to provide political cover for him in turn.

    What Does It Mean To Be Pro-Israel?

    The spate of attacks hurled at J Street were intended to paint the group as “anti-Israel,” outside the mainstream and unrepresentative of the views of the Jewish community. As such, its critics claim, J Street has no right to a seat at the table on the “pro-Israel” side of any discussion of U.S. policy.

    But a series of polls of American Jews commissioned by the group suggest the opposite is true, that J Street’s moderate view of the Israel-Palestine conflict better reflects the views of most American Jews than those of more hawkish “pro-Israel” groups.

    According to the study [doc.] conducted in March, while “support for Israel is strong and stable among American Jews,” they tend to take “very sophisticated and nuanced positions when it comes to American policy toward the Middle East” — positions that are anything but the Israel-right-or-wrong narrative advanced by the established right-leaning groups of the “Israel lobby.”

    For example, almost 9 of 10 American Jews surveyed said the administration should put pressure on both sides to achieve a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. And while it’s official Israeli (and U.S.) policy not to negotiate with any Palestinian entity that includes members of Hamas, 7 out of 10 American Jews would be in favor of Israel cutting a deal with a unity government that included the organization.

    Six of 10 oppose the expansion of Israeli settlements, “56 percent believe that military action that kills Palestinian civilians — even if it targets terrorists — actually creates more terrorism instead of preventing terrorism,” and while a majority supported Israel’s “right” to launch last year’s attack on the Gaza Strip, 60 percent of respondents said the campaign had either done nothing to enhance Israel’s security or had in fact made the country less safe.

    Withering Fire

    The great danger J Street represents to the long-established groups of the “Israel lobby” is that it has the potential to shift the terms of the debate in Washington — redefining the boundaries of “mainstream” discourse on the Middle East conflict.

    “A more open discourse would reveal how the policies advocated by the traditional lobbying groups have damaged U.S. Interests and unintentionally harmed Israel as well,” Harvard’s Steven Walt, co-author of The Israel Lobby, said in an email-exchange. “And that is not something that AIPAC and the other hard-line groups want to have exposed.”

    The reaction to J Street’s emergence on the scene has been fierce. In an e-mail to supporters, J Street Campaign Director Isaac Luria wrote: “The Weekly Standardmagazine — dubbed the “neocon bible” by the Economist — launched an attack on our conference and the whole pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.”

    Weekly Standard Editor Michael Goldfarb — a man who has suggested that killing innocent women and children is an effective tool in the “war on terror” — launched a campaign urging readers to call members of Congress and, in Luria’s words, “frighten them away from associating with J Street.”

    Commentary‘s Noah Pollack called J Street an “anti-Israel group” that is “simply contemptible,” James Kirchick of the New Republic, in the midst of an ongoing public crusade against the group, sneered that “far from representing the ‘silent majority’ of American Jews,” J Street is “run by politically marginal amateurs.” And a slick-looking Web site, JStreet Jive.com, popped up to “track Israel’s Jewish defamers.”

    Luria calls the attacks “classic swiftboating,” and on examination, the charges against J Street appear to fit that description. One of J Street’s most vocal critics has been Lenny Ben-David — whom MJ Rosenberg, an Israel policy analyst and former congressional aide, described as “the quarterback of the smear campaign against J Street.”

    Rosenberg, who has firsthand knowledge of Ben-David’s political tactics, called him “a feckless character, if there ever was one”:

    S.Africa backs GM,IBM, Apartheid lawsuit

    Thursday, October 15th, 2009

    The relevance of this development to the Palestinian struggle for justice and civil rights is clear. It could establish a legal precedent which in the future may be used by Palestinians to target those

    corporations who are profiting from the illegal Israeli occupation.   

    South Africa Backs GM, Ford, IBM Apartheid Lawsuit (Update1)

    Share | Email | Print | A A A

    By David Glovin and Mike Cohen

    Sept. 3 (Bloomberg) — The South African government told a judge it now supports a U.S. lawsuit accusing General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., IBM Corp. and Daimler AG of aiding South Africa’s former apartheid regime, according to lawyers.

    Jeff Radebe, South Africa’s justice minister, said in a letter to a judge that the government reversed its position and believes the case should go forward, according to lawyers at Hausfeld LLP, one of the firms representing plaintiffs in the suit. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan in April narrowed the case while allowing it to proceed.

    “The government of the Republic of South Africa, having considered carefully the judgment of the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, is now of the view that this court is an appropriate forum to hear the remaining claims,” Radebe wrote to Scheindlin this week, according to a copy of the letter provided by the Hausfeld firm.

    The plaintiffs in the case, including people who were tortured or relatives of those killed, invoked the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act, a 200-year-old law that lets federal courts hear suits by non-citizens claiming violations of international law. They say the companies knowingly helped the former South African regime by selling it weapons, providing it financing and otherwise doing business there.

    South Africa’s government initially opposed the lawsuit, saying it would deter investment, a position that was reviewed after Jacob Zuma was elected president in May.

    ‘Good News’

    The government’s decision to withdraw its opposition “is extremely good news for us,” said Marjorie Jobson, a director of Khulumani Support Group, which supports apartheid victims. “They feel they can no longer protect” the companies.

    Tlali Tlali, Radebe’s spokesman, didn’t answer several calls to his mobile phone. South African government spokesman Themba Maseko said he hadn’t been briefed on the case.

    Daimler’s South African unit said it was confident of winning the case. Daimler, based in Stuttgart, Germany, is the world’s second-largest maker of luxury cars.

    “We regard these class actions as unsubstantiated,” the company said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Daimler AG has at no time cooperated with the South African security forces for the perpetuation of apartheid.”

    All of the other defendants either denied wrongdoing or refused to comment when Scheindlin ruled the case could proceed.

    The case is In re South African Apartheid Litigation, 02- md-1499, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

    To contact the reporters on this story: David Glovin in U.S. District Court in Manhattan at 2587 or dglovin@bloomberg.net; Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net

    Last Updated: September 3, 2009 10:58 EDT